The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/10/15
TA-NAHESI COATES, THE ATLANTIC: That`s basically what we want to do,
without realizing, in fact, that it`s with us. We can`t actually be
quarantined because we`re already part of it.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, “ALL IN” HOST: Ta-Nehisi Coates of “The Atlantic”,
it`s always a pleasure, man.
COATES: Thanks for having me.
HAYES: All right. That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good morning, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris, thanks.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
When Hillary Clinton bowed out of the race for president in 2008 when
she gave her concession speech, saying she was getting out of the race and
she was going to be endorsing Barack Obama, she gave that speech at the
National Building Museum, which is a very boring sounding name for a place.
But the National Building Museum is one of the most beautiful large-scale
rooms of any kind in Washington, D.C. Just the lobby, the main floor of
the National Building Museum is a gorgeous, gorgeous space.
And in that speech that she gave on June 7th, 2008, this very sad
occasion for Senator Clinton and her supporters after this incredibly hard-
fought primary campaign, at that sad moment, Senator Clinton, she has given
that speech, she looked up at this huge audience she had for this
concession speech, she looked up at the people who were listening to her,
right, she looked up at the beautiful ceiling of that lovely building that
she was in, cast her eyes upward and she delivered the line for which that
speech is remembered.
And even though this was a concession speech, the line for which that
speech is remembered is not the concession moment. It`s not remembered as
a sad moment or as a regretful moment. What that speech is remembered for
is basically the political equivalent of I`ll be back. It was a great
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: As we gather here today
in this historic, magnificent building, the 50th woman who leave this earth
is orbiting overhead. If we can blast 50 women into space, we will someday
launch a woman into the White House.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
And although we weren`t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass
ceiling this time, thanks to you, it`s got about 18 million cracks in it.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
And the light is shining through like never before, filling us all
with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Will the path be a little easier next time?
That is what Hillary Clinton is testing right now. And at one very
basic level, it seems like – yes, it`s going to be a lot easier this time,
in part because no Barack Obama. In fact, nobody has really running
against her this time. There is no Senator Barack Obama of Illinois who
she needs to defeat to win the Democratic presidential nomination for 2016.
And I do not say that as an insult to Senator Bernie Sanders or former
Senator Jim Webb or former Maryland Governor Martin O`Malley, all of whom
really do seem like they are running and they will try to contest the
nomination against Hillary Clinton, but honestly it`s not the same.
It is so much not the same that it is reasonable now to wonder if the
Democratic presidential primary process this year might just not have any
debates in it at all, because why bother?
So, at one level, it looks like it will be easier. Much easier for
Hillary Clinton to secure the Democratic Party`s presidential nomination
this year, but winning the nomination and winning the presidency are not at
all the same thing.
And there is a big open a historical question of how to run for the
presidency if you don`t really have to run in a primary. And there`s also
the question of how to do that while also being Hillary Clinton, because
being Hillary Clinton is not like being anyone else in the entire world.
Nobody else has gone from being first lady to being a U.S. senator to
almost being a presidential nominee to being secretary of state, to being
the all but inevitable nominee from her party.
I mean, even though she is not a sitting president running for re-
election or a sitting vice president. Nobody has ever been this inevitable
as a nominee without already occupying the White House at the time they
Hillary Clinton is always doing something that nobody has done before.
So, there`s no normal, right? There`s no reasonable expectation of what
might happen next based on what happened before because with her, more
often than not, it`s never happened before.
And that partly explains why every time Hillary Clinton does make an
overt public foray of some kind, where people and reporters get access to
her it is always an incredible scrum, right? And she and her political
folks clearly know that and they manage her public and political
Before today, Secretary Clinton had not had a press conference or
taken questions from the press corps in two years. She spent the last
couple of years working on causes that she cares about and giving speeches
for money that were mostly closed to the public and closed to the press,
the kind of speeches where she would only make news: (a), if she wanted to,
or if (b), if somebody like threw a shoe at her.
In the ramp-up to this inevitable but as yet still undeclared campaign
for 2016, Hillary Clinton has been picking her political events and her
public appearances very, very carefully, with an eye toward capitalizing on
what will be the historic nature of her nomination if and when the
Democratic Party picks her to be the first female presidential nominee from
either major party in this country`s history.
So, Hillary Clinton`s first speech in 2015 was an event in Silicon
Valley focusing on women`s achievement in the tech field. Her second
political event of 2015 was a speech at Emily`s List, focusing on women`s
achievement in politics the need to have women reach the highest levels of
politics. Today at the United Nations, it was her third major public
speaking event of 2015 and it, again, focused on women and women`s
And this is how she was introduced today at the U.N.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have wonderful Excellency on the table, from a
former prime minister, president, a future president.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m just saying –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Secretary Clinton gave this major address today at the U.N.
after being introduced like that.
The address had been planned in advance for months. It was basically
seen as the 20th anniversary commemoration of one of the highest profile
most widely praised things that she did when she was first lady of the
United States, in 1995 when she went to China, she gave a blistering speech
as first lady that attacked China while she was in China, attacked China
for its policies related to women and girls and discrimination against
women and girls. She declared in that speech in 1995 that women`s rights
are human rights and human rights are women`s rights. That was 20 years
Today at the United Nations was meant to be the book end for that
speech, and, oh, my God, did she get a good turn out for her appearance
today at the United Nations.
But honestly they were not there to cover her speech on women and
girls and women`s achievements and women`s rights as human rights. Look at
the press today. Look at this.
The press was there in such huge numbers at the U.N., in numbers
almost never seen at the U.N. for anything. The press was there like this
today for Hillary Clinton because for the first time in two years, Hillary
Clinton said she would be taking questions from the press corps and today
they knew what she would be taking those questions about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REPORTER: Madam Secretary, can you –
CLINTON: Andrea. Andrea, thank you, Andrea.
REPORTER: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Can you explain how you
decided which of the personal e-mails to get rid of, how you got rid of
them and when?
CLINTON: Hi, right here.
REPORTER: Secretary Clinton.
CLINTON: She`s sort of squashed.
REPORTER: Hi, Secretary. I was wondering if you think you made a
mistake, either in exclusively using your private e-mail or in response to
the controversy around.
REPORTER: Did you or any of your aides delete any government-related
e-mails from your personal account?
REPORTER: How can the public be assured when you deleted e-mails that
were personal in nature, that you didn`t also delete e-mails that were
professional but possibly unflattering?
REPORTER: Madam Secretary –
REPORTER: Why did you wait two months?
REPORTER: Why did you wait two months to turn those e-mails over? I
mean, the rules say you have to turn them over.
REPORTER: Delete the personal e-mails –
CLINTON: I`d be happy to have somebody talk to you about the rules.
I fully complied with every rule that I was governed by.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Secretary Hillary Clinton in the first news conference she
has had with reporters in two years since she was secretary of state. She
started off by making remarks about women and girls and human rights, which
is the subject of her speech today. Nobody asked about that.
Then she moved on and made more remarks about these Republican
senators writing to Iran to try to undermine President Obama. She made
very sharp comments criticizing Republicans in the Senate for that. Nobody
asked about that.
Basically, the questions for her today were about her use of a private
e-mail account while secretary of state.
Secretary Clinton said today that she used it simply because it was
convenient. She said that the e-mail server that she used was secure, that
it had been set up for the office of her husband, the office of former
President Clinton and that the server was physically kept in a location
that was guarded by the Secret Service and there were no security issues
with regard to the server. She said her use of a private e-mail account
was allowed under the laws and rules that applied to her as secretary of
She said any government official who uses a private e-mail account is
individually responsible for deciding which of their e-mails is work-
related and then handing over work-related e-mails to the government so
they can be archived and accessed for public records purposes. She said
she did that just like any government official is expected to.
She said she did delete tens of thousands of e-mails from her time as
secretary of state, but she said today that those were purely personal e-
mails, things that had nothing to do with her official responsibilities as
the head of the Department of State.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: We went through a thorough process to identify all of my
work-related e-mails and deliver them to the State Department. At the end,
I chose not to keep my private, personal e-mails, e-mails about planning
Chelsea`s wedding or my mother`s funeral arrangements, condolence notes to
friends, as well as yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you
typically find in inboxes. No one wants their personal e-mails made public
and I think most people understand that and respect that privacy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The story is going to go on for awhile, even though Secretary
Clinton says she handed over all her work-related e-mails, did she hand
them over quickly enough? Will there ever be some sort of third party
assurance that they were all of her work-related e-mails and nothing work-
related was either held back or deleted improperly?
Even though she says her private e-mail server was super secure and
there were no issues with classified material or anything else about the
security of her transmissions, can anybody else attest to that? What
explains the discrepancy between the White House saying she didn`t follow
the administration`s guidance on government business using private e-mails,
what`s the difference between that assertion and her assertion today that
what she did was both allowed and fairly common?
As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton apparently instructed State
Department staff that they should not conduct official department business
from their personal e-mail accounts. If she did set rules for State
Department staff that she did not follow herself, as secretary of state, is
there a good reason why she didn`t follow the rules that she set for
The questions are going to go on for a long time. The State
Department announced today they would conduct a review of Secretary
Clinton`s self-proclaimed work-related e-mails at her request with an eye
toward releasing publicly some months from now – so, some months from now,
right, we`ll be talking about this all again even if we don`t talk about it
another day after today and that`s not likely.
This story is not going away soon. The questions about the story
won`t go away soon and the story itself will stay alive at least several
more months while the State Department completes this review.
And so, is the path to the presidency going to be a little easier this
time than it was the last time? Don`t know.
All right. Secretary Clinton does appear to be blessed this time
around with no real primary that she has to run in order to win the
nomination, at least at this point, that`s how it looks. But that does not
mean that the process of running for president is something that she or her
campaign can control or do entirely on their own terms.
When Hillary Clinton ran in 2008 by this point in the process, by this
point in the calendar year, she was already in. She was already officially
a declared candidate as of January. She was already officially running her
presidential campaign. She`d been in for weeks by now.
She got in in mid-January. Remember that? I`m in and I`m in it to
Well, this time around, as we head deeper into March, not only has she
not declared she`s running, not only has she not officially started her
presidential campaign, but as recently as a few weeks ago, people were
talking about the prospect of her not declaring that she was running for
months yet, deep into the summer maybe. Let the Republicans beat each
other up, let them have their big primary circus, while she can float above
the fray and choose to talk about things she wants to talk about and choose
to not talk about things she doesn`t want to talk about. Engage at will.
Take the questions you want and not the questions you don`t.
That fantasy appears to be dead now. There are reports today that
Secretary Clinton will be declaring her presidential candidacy and
officially starting her campaign maybe as soon as just a couple of weeks
from now, by April 1st.
Hillary Clinton is the most famous woman in the world. And she has
been for a very long time. There is nobody else like her in politics. And
nobody else has done the things that she has done in politics. But that
does not mean that there`s going to be anything easy or anything
predictable about her effort to become the first woman president of the
Maybe the only thing you can predict about her run for the presidency
is that the person in the front row who will get in the first question and
the most aggressive question and the one question she got today actually
about women`s rights – and she will get those questions in there if it
kills her and she has to stand on a box to do it – is NBC`s own Andrea
Mitchell, who was there today with Secretary Clinton at the U.N.
Andrea, it`s great to see you. You were on a box, weren`t you?
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC`S “ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS” HOST: I was on a
MADDOW: How tall is this box?
MITCHELL: A lot taller than I am.
MITCHELL: I had to get high enough so the camera could see me and so
that she could see me.
MADDOW: Well, she addressed you by name when she called on you. You
got the first very aggressive question Secretary Clinton today. You have
spent a lot of time with her at State and in her previous career.
Is what you saw today at the U.N. – am I right in saying that`s a
very atypical experience for press and the U.N. and what goes on there?
MITCHELL: I have never seen anything like that. I`ve covered the
U.N. for decades. It is a very sedate place. Ambassador comes out of a
handful of reporters, you know, ask questions, politely.
It was madness today. This was a circus and it was interestingly a
combination of the political press corps and some diplomatic press corps,
the State Department press corps who followed Hillary around and mostly
respectful ways. She has not seen anything like this since 2007/2008,
because this now was an energized active group of reporters wanting to ask
questions about something that she had stonewalled on for two weeks,
frankly, and many people, Democrats as well as certainly Republicans, but
political analysts think it was self-imposed, this injury that this all
could have been disclosed and dealt with much sooner.
MADDOW: In terms of substantive how she dealt with questions today, I
tried to run through sort of the assertions of fact that she made and some
of the questions that remained. Certainly, we`ve already seen today,
particularly among fellow Democrats, there`s been giving her basically some
credit for coming out and talking about it, for making herself available
for questions, for not trying to stay out of this but rather engaging.
MADDOW: She`s getting credit for that but in terms of the substantive
story, what she addressed, what she advanced today on the story, do you
think she made progress in terms of satisfying people as to what happened?
MITCHELL: Even just coming out was progress.
MITCHELL: Her explanation it was convenience was a little striking
because there was guidance. It wasn`t a rule, it wasn`t a regulation,
certainly wasn`t a law but there was guidance you should use the government
e-mail system. She used a personal e-mail system.
It seemed I think because – it seems rooted in the experience the
Clintons had had in the `90s.
This goes back to the last such press conference, not combative, it
was in the state dining room in April of 1994, she was wearing a lovely
pink sweater, and she was addressing the question of cattle futures and
Whitewater and the Rose law firm and whether they had special benefits from
– and favors because of their position in Arkansas. And she answered
questions, you know, until the cows came home.
And it was a day when there was a lot happening on Bosnia, and a lot
of other stories we were really more interested in covering but this was
the first chance to interview the first lady about all of this, and she
yielded to advice to answer all those questions, they said to her, this
will be the end of it, just answer these questions. And six months later,
Ken Starr had been appointed and there was a prosecutor.
So, her experience has been, if you answer questions, they`ll want
more, and they`ll never be satisfied. And so, that`s why she hunkered
But in the era of social media, I don`t think you can – politically,
you can`t get away with it especially in the weeks leading up to the launch
of a campaign.
Let me just say this, there were a number of us from the State
Department press corps, you know, who covered her before, who really wanted
to cover the International Women`s Day events.
MITCHELL: I was in Beijing with her, so –
MADDOW: In 1959.
MITCHELL: In 1995. So that arc goes back very far for me and this
was incredibly meaningful. I think the report they issued jointly with the
Gates Foundation yesterday, the Clinton Foundation and Gates Foundation
report on the new – it was very important and had a lot of data in it, and
I wish we had been working on that, frankly.
MADDOW: In terms of what happens next here and what we should expect,
we do have – we have a weird situation politically in terms of patterns
and being able to count on the historical record, in that we`ve got
basically the no primary plan on the Democratic side. We have also got
Hillary Clinton who has this incredibly unusual path to where she is now.
She`s been such – she`s been a political pioneer. She`s done things
that nobody else has done in terms of the path she had followed.
Given what you have seen in the reporting you`ve done with her over
the years, do you think that if she does formally start a campaign and put
that apparatus in action, that she will be able to weather these kinds of
things and make decisions about these sort of things in a way that will be
different to what she`s able to do now?
MITCHELL: Yes, because I think – at least she`s hired really smart
people from the Obama White House, from the Obama`s campaign and others,
and I think one of the arguments against delaying any further is that she
didn`t have an apparatus to deal with these questions when they first came
up, because she doesn`t have a real campaign office. And I think she`s
hired a lot of smart people working them in with some of her, you know,
former aides who have been with her all along. I mean, the real corps
Clinton people and I think she`s building a very strong team.
But now, she`s given ammunition to the Benghazi investigating
committee which was floundering and now it has a new life bred by the
questions and conspiracy theories and those that just don`t trust her
answers on e-mails.
Wonderful footnote, “The Wall Street Journal” posted today or, yes,
earlier today that Bill Clinton does not send e-mails. He has sent two,
one to the troops and one congratulating John Glenn on his spaceflight, two
in his entire life.
MADDOW: Yes, and probably not, you know, for want of temptation in
MADDOW: Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign affairs
correspondent, host of Andrea Mitchell reports, at noon weekdays here on
this network. Andrea, it`s really – it`s great to see you in that
footage. And it`s great having you. Thank you.
MITCHELL: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We got much more ahead, including a response from
one of the real live independents in the United States Senate.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: There was Wednesday when we got that shocking news out of
South Korea that the U.S. ambassador to South Korea had been at a breakfast
meeting in Seoul when he was attacked by a man wielding a ten-inch kitchen
knife. The man slashed ambassador Mark Lippert`s face and arm. Ambassador
Lippert was taken straight from the meeting room to the hospital, ended up
getting 80 stitches to repair the giant slash to his face.
Well, today ambassador Lippert was released from the hospital. The
ambassador has suffered some nerve damage in his left hand. You can also
see he has an impressive four-inch wound on his cheek but he seemed to be
in very positive spirits today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK LIPPERT, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH KOREA: It was obviously a
scary incident but I`m walking, talking, holding my baby, you know, hugging
my wife. So, I`m – I just feel really good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The alleged attacker remains in custody. He`s facing charges
of violating Korean national security law and attempted murder. The man`s
believed to have been making some sort of protest against the U.S. and
South Korea holding joint military exercises, but honestly, who cares?
Once you`re stabbing people in the face, nobody cares about why you`re
The State Department says they may add further security for the
embassy and embassy personnel in Seoul.
But again, the news today, the very good news today, is that the
American ambassador to South Korea who was attacked just viciously last
week, Mark Lippert is well enough to have been released from the hospital
More ahead. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TERRI SEWELL (D), ALABAMA: Loretta Lynch, please stand up.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
SEWELL: We look forward to you being the 83rd attorney general of the
United States of America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was this weekend in Selma, Alabama, during the 50th
commemoration of the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and the police
violence against those marchers that led to the Voting Rights Act in 1965.
Federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch getting a huge ovation at Brown
Chapel in Selma. She was introduced to the crowd as the next attorney
general of the United States. Key word there being “next”.
Loretta Lynch was nominated to be the next attorney general more than
four months ago. But the Republican-controlled Senate has not been willing
to hold a vote on her nomination.
It`s not like the Senate isn`t in the business of doing confirmations
right now. Just yesterday, the Senates confirmed a new intellectual
property enforcement coordinator and also a new director of the U.S. Patent
and Trademark Office, whoo-hoo! Two very important posts. Not, however,
the country`s top law enforcement official.
I don`t know why this isn`t a bigger story for the Beltway media but
no nominee for attorney general has gone through something like this. For
somebody for whom there are no substantive objections to her nomination, no
one nominated to be attorney general has ever in the history of our country
been held by the Senate for this long.
She`s already been approved by the Judiciary Committee. It`s just
that the Republican leadership in the Senate won`t allow the full Senate to
vote on her, unprecedented.
Democrats are starting to stamp their feet about it a little bit,
including Harry Reid, making yet another call today for her to get a vote.
The latest word from Mitch McConnell is that maybe they`ll vote on her next
week. We`ll see. We`ve heard that before, though.
Even if they do finally get around to voting on her next week by the
time they do that, they will have put her through a truly remarkable ordeal
on the way to her getting this job – and that`s if they vote next week.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: Glasgow Caledonian University, is one of Scotland`s public
universities. It`s one of the top universities in the whole United
Kingdom. Glasgow Caledonian boasts a few notable staff and alumni,
including two very well-known international leaders.
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, he of the amazing jaw line
and even better hairdo. He was a lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian for a few
years, in the late 1970s, before becoming prime minister.
Also, the current president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani got his PhD there
in 1999. Here he is receiving that degree. The title of his thesis was
apparently “The flexibility of Sharia law with reference to the Iranian
The president of Iran has a Scottish PhD. And it turns out having an
advanced degree from a highly regarded western university is kind of a
thing in the Iranian government. Iranian cabinet ministers have lots and
lots of advanced degrees, from dens of iniquity like Cal-Berkeley and MIT
In the Iranian cabinet, they`ve actually got a better stack of
graduate degrees from high-level American universities than we currently
have in President Obama`s cabinet here at home, and that turns out to be an
awkward backdrop to one of the weirder, dumber things to happen in
Washington in a really long time. And in this iteration of Washington,
that`s saying something.
That story is next.
MADDOW: Over the past several years, if there was one thing Congress
could agree on and very often there`s barely even one thing Congress they
can agree on – if there was one thing they did feel all kumbaya about, it
was condemning the nation of Iran, ah, look. Iran sanctions approval
unanimous in Senate, sweeps House 408-8. That was in 2010.
Following year, even though the White House was strongly opposed,
every single U.S. senator again voted for more Iran sanctions. The year
after that, more sanctions passed the Senate, 94-0. Again, over the
objections of the Obama administration, the following year, the Senate
unanimously approved a resolution saying that if Israel launched a military
strike on Iran, the U.S. would be fully supportive of that.
Then, last year, it was kumba-we-hate-Iran-again when all of Congress
came together to deny a visa to Iran`s choice to be U.N. ambassador.
In the most polarized Congress ever when people can`t all vote
together on a “we like puppies” bill or “we like pie”, Democrats and
Republicans have been able to come together no matter what, even when the
White House was super opposed, they have an able to come together and vote
together against Iran. Until now.
Because now, a brand spanking new freshman Republican senator from
Arkansas, Tom Cotton, has figured out a way to blow up that consensus.
Senator Tom Cotton wrote an open letter to the leaders of Iran. He got 46
of his Senate Republican colleagues to sign on to the letter with him.
In so doing, Tom Cotton has accomplished something that pretty
recently would have seemed impossible. He`s gotten everybody in Congress
to start fighting with each other over their previously consensus approach
to Iran. Democrats denounce the Tom Cotton letter, but beyond that, they
all united in opposition to it – even the Democrats who have been most
aggressively hawkish on Iran are against Tom Cotton on this.
And suddenly, one of the last areas in the whole world where
Republicans fighting with the White House could rely on Democrats to help
them out against the White House, that appears to be done now and that`s
just the Democrats.
It should also be noted that Tom Cotton appears to have split the
Republicans on this previously consensus issue as well. Most Republicans
did sign on to the Tom Cotton letter, but some did not and are being pretty
vocal about why they didn`t. And so, now, there`s a nice big vocal rift
opening within the Republican Party over this issue.
So, for those of you keeping score at home, we have gone from year
after year after year of this kind of agreement to 47 Republican senators
squaring off against the rest of the Republican senators who are squaring
off against all the Democrats and, yes.
So, that`s the strategy here – and then again there`s the letter
itself which itself as a document is an astonishing thing.
This is from the letter, quote, “It has come to our attention while
observing your nuclear negotiations with our government, that you may not
fully understand our constitutional system. The offices of our
Constitution have different characteristics. For example, the president
may serve only two four-year terms, whereas senators may serve an unlimited
number of six-year terms.”
Also, cat starts with “C.” pie, good. Boo-boo, owwie. I mean,
Iran`s foreign minister replied to the Republicans and Tom Cotton with
his own really nicely passive aggressive letter written in English. Quote,
“Zarif expressed astonishment that some members of U.S. Congress find it
appropriate to write to leaders of another country against their own
president and administration.” Quote, “It seems that the authors not only
do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the
nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in
the conduct of foreign policy.” You idiot.
Republicans in Congress have been working very hard to kill the
administration`s talks with Iran on the nuclear issue. They`ve been doing
that for a very, very long time. They threatened legislation to try to
scuttle the deal. That was something that might have even had Democratic
support before Mitchell McConnell tried to fast track it last week and it
got all screwed up.
They invited Israel`s prime minister to give a speech denouncing the
deal before the whole U.S. Congress. The most visible effect of that thus
far appears to be the endangerment of Benjamin Netanyahu`s prospects for
re-election at home. Well done.
But this letter is such a sad sack attempt to stop the talks and stop
the deal that the Iranians are publicly marveling at how dumb this seems.
The foreign minister of Iran basically just told them off about what they
don`t understand about the Constitution. And he actually has a better
argument than they do.
And at home just politically, it also seems like an explicable
strategy for the Republicans. They took something on which they were
united and they were often united with all Democrats on the matter and they
instead turned it into a shouting match.
If their goal is to keep some sort of unified pressure on Iran, they
have alienated some of their most committed allies and turned into what
used to be an everybody-nod-together issue into an issue that feels more
like partisan chaos.
Joining us now for the interview is an independent senator from Maine,
Angus King. He`s a member of the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence
Committees. He`s a co-sponsor of legislation that would require Senate
review of any nuclear deal with Iran, but today, he took to the Senate
floor to denounce this open letter to Iran`s leader.
Senator King, thank you so much for being with us.
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Rachel, good to be with you and you hit
it right on the head. This whole thing is bizarre because the bill that
was put in barely a week ago by Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the
Foreign Relations Committee was headed, I believe, for a veto-proof
majority. People were clamoring to co-sponsor it. Bob Corker is a very
careful to keep it bipartisan. I wouldn`t put a Republican on it until he
got a Democrat and was building out from the middle, and all of a sudden,
it got blown up.
I mean, this is – if this isn`t an example of snatching victory from
the – defeat from the jaws of victory, I`ve never seen it. It`s a very
strange turn of events.
They have politicized – they have politicized and made partisan an
issue that was never partisan before.
MADDOW: I wanted – I`m glad you brought up Senator Corker because
that last point is what I was going to ask you. Senator Corker, as far as
I understand, is one of the Republicans who did not sign on to Senator
Cotton`s letter today. It`s got unanimous Democratic opposition. It split
the Republicans senators including Senator Corker and his incredibly key
position on this.
I wonder if you see this as sort of a fluke occurrence or does this
imply that there are sort of fishers in the Senate in terms of people
trying to take a leadership role in this where we shouldn`t really feel
like we can predict what`s going to happen next on this previously very
KING: Well, what I find so troubling about this is that it proves
once and for all that there`s nothing in this town that won`t be a partisan
issue, that won`t be politicized.
In working on this bill with Bob Corker and Lindsey Graham and Tim
Kaine and others, my concern was, you know, can we have a serious debate on
the merits of this deal or are some members of this caucus going to vote
against it no matter what just because it`s coming from this president?
And, unfortunately, the events of the last couple of days, you know, they
sort of mountain out that that may be the case.
Rachel, this is maybe the most important negotiation since the Cuban
missile crisis. This is a really important negotiation for America, for
Israel, for the Middle East, for the world, very serious issues, the
consequences if the negotiations fail are enormous and to turn this into a
partisan issue is – it just – it`s pretty sad, really and as a say, it`s
bizarre because if these folks wanted to exercise congressional control
over this decision, Bob Corker had the vehicle to do so with Democratic
But, you know, people like me, I`m staying with it. But, you know,
this is getting close.
I mean can you imagine, Rachel, you know, you`re too young to
remember. I remember if the Congress had gotten in touch with Khrushchev
in the middle of the Cuban missile crisis and said, don`t pay attention to
this guy Kennedy, deal with us – I mean, you know, that`s essentially what
we`re talking about here. The president leads on foreign policy, and as I
say I believe Congress should have a role, but let`s exercise the role once
we know what the deal is and in a responsible nonpartisan way. That`s the
way it ought to be handled.
MADDOW: Do you think that what the senators have done with this
letter could materially affect the likelihood of a successful deal being
KING: It`s possible. I think the possible real downside here is that
Iran has politics just like we do. They have factions. They have people
that were really wanting to move forward with these negotiations because
the sanctions were having such a negative effect on their economy.
But there are also people in the regime who never thought the
negotiations were a good idea, they view this an atomic weapon as part of
national sovereignty and prestige. They didn`t want this to happen.
My concern is I don`t think it`s going to happen. I thought Zarif`s
response was pretty measured, but it clearly the dangers it will empower
the hard-liners in Tehran saying, look, this proves you dance of can`t deal
with America. They can`t be trusted. They can`t speak with one voice.
Let`s walk away.
The other piece of this, Rachel, you`ve got to remember is this just
isn`t us and Iran. There are five other countries involved in this, all
the members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. They`re involved in
these negotiations and, in fact, it`s their sanctions more than ours that
are really imposing the pain on Iran and if they see us screwing this up,
because of partisan political differences here in America, they can say,
look, OK, we`ll live with a nuclear Iran, we`re not going to enforce the
sanctions anymore – and then the whole thing falls apart, and we`re in a
very bad place.
MADDOW: Yes, good luck for American leadership in the world on even
unrelated matters if we screw this one up, simply because of our own
internal inability to handle our own business.
Independent Senator Angus King of Maine, member of the Senate
Intelligence and Armed Services Committees – it`s really great to have you
here, Senator. Thank you for being here.
KING: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Correction, earlier in the show, we were talking about the
Loretta Lynch nomination to be attorney general. We showed a clip of
Loretta Lynch being introduced at the Brown Chapel in Selma, Alabama, over
the weekend. The video that we showed had a little graphic on it in the
subtitles that identified the person introducing Loretta Lynch as Sherrilyn
Ifill, from the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.
That was not Sherrilyn Ifill. That was Democratic Congresswoman Terri
Sewell of Alabama. I`m very sorry about that.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: So, you know how at work – you`re always getting really,
really, really racist e-mails from your co-workers, like really super
offensive, overtly racist e-mails, like calling African-Americans monkeys
and stuff? You know how you get those super racist e-mails on you work e-
mail from your co-workers and from your boss, and nobody at work cares and
nobody ever gets in trouble for that?
Yes, me neither! That`s not what work is like.
But you will be surprised at who thinks that is a normal thing to have
happen at work, that`s more normal than not. That very strange story is
MADDOW: This is something I did not see coming. So, last week, the
Justice Department released two reports on the same day, both about
Ferguson, Missouri. The first report said there wouldn`t be federal civil
rights charges brought against the police officer who shot and killed
Michael Brown, that unarmed teenager, last summer.
The second report released the same day, though, was about Ferguson`s
police department and their local court system, in which the Justice
Department found a pattern or practice of racial bias. Quote, “The harms
of Ferguson`s police and court practices are born disproportionately by
African-Americans. Ferguson`s harmful court and police practices are due
at least in part to intentional discrimination as demonstrated by direct
evidence of racial bias and stereotyping about African-Americans by certain
Ferguson police and municipal court officials.”
And then, the thing about this report, they printed some of that
direct evidence, including really racist e-mails sent by Ferguson officials
through official city of Ferguson e-mail accounts, apparently during work
hours, by officials up to and including like police commanders and court
supervisors, with no one ever being disciplined or even being told to shut
They include an e-mail that stated President Barack Obama would not be
president for very long because, quote, “what black man holds a steady job
for four years?” Another email depicting President Barack Obama as a
Another email that stated, an African-American woman in New Orleans
was admitted to the hospital for a pregnancy termination, two weeks later,
she received a check for $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was
from, the hospital said, “Crimestoppers.”
Also another email describing a man seeking to obtain welfare for his
dogs because they are, quote, mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can`t speak
English, and have no friggin` clue who their daddies are.
Also another email that included a photo of a bare-chested group of
dancing women, apparently in Africa, with the caption, “Michelle Obama`s
high school reunion”.
So, that`s what top police commanders and court officials and
supervisors are e-mailing about at work on their work e-mail. The DOJ says
their review of documents revealed many additional e-mail communications
that exhibited racial or ethnic bias, as well as other forms of bias. This
is the important part, our investigation has not revealed any indication
that any officer or court clerk engaged in these communications was ever
So, that changed once the Department of Justice released this report a
few days ago. The mayor of Ferguson announced people who had they have
been disciplined before for these things were now at least being
investigated, being put on leave, being fired. So far a court clerk, a
police captain, a police sergeant have all lost their jobs. They`re trying
to put this back on the tracks in Ferguson, right?
Late tonight, the city manager of Ferguson reached a mutual separation
agreement with the city council in Ferguson. The Ferguson city manager has
Also, a local municipal judge has resigned. The state of Missouri has
stepped in and put a state judge in charge of the local courts there, to
try to get that city back on track, to try to restore some kind of trust in
what they do.
So, there`s been a lot of drama, even some reckoning in the last few
days because of the Justice Department`s investigation into what`s been
going on in this town. And the Justice Department`s findings about how
black people have been treated by the police and the local court system and
these vivid examples of the kinds of racist drek that was seen as OK and no
big deal, even when top officials were sending it around on their work e-
mails, their official accounts.
I mean, this is incredible, right? I mean, can you imagine get thing
at work from your boss? Nobody saying anything about it, nobody thinking
this was weird – bare-chested group of dancing women, apparently in
Africa, Michelle Obama`s high school reunion. Imagine getting that at work
and everybody thinks, oh, no big deal.
What I did not see coming is how the conservative media would react to
this same news. I mean, we`re all working from the same set of facts. But
look how this story comes out when you see it on the FOX News Channel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, it`s not a story of institutional racism in
Ferguson, it`s story of blood sucking local government that`s trying to get
every ounce of revenue that it can either to feed its pensions problems or
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: It`s problematic for so many reasons, not the
least of which is there are few companies in America, whether they`re
public or private, in which if you sick 40 FBI agents on the company and
review every e-mail and every document and every communication you can
between the employees, you won`t find any racist e-mails, any inappropriate
comments, and then to tar the entire organization with that is additionally
I got to steal the last word on that. Bret, good to see you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to see you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Very few companies in America where you won`t find photo of
bare-chested group of women in Africa with the caption, Michelle Obama`s
high school reunion. The president is a chimpanzee.
You know what? I don`t get e-mails from my colleagues like that. I
don`t work at the FOX News Channel, so I can`t speak to what`s in their
employees inboxes on a regular basis, but e-mails depicting President Obama
as a chimp, the Michelle Obama`s high school reunion on, e-mails describing
a man trying to obtain welfare for his dogs because they`re mixed in color
– I mean, maybe those kinds of emails happened where you work, maybe my
office is an outlier.
I do not get those types of e-mails. If I did get sent something like
that at work, I would expect that people would get fired.
And that is what is in the process of happening right now in Ferguson,
Missouri. Apparently at the FOX News Channel, that`s an outrage, because
this sort of thing is normal for the American workplace. Very few
companies in America are not sending around work e-mails about lazy
unemployed black people and the black president being a monkey. That`s
normal, right? That`s American business. FOX News Channel says that`s
normal – that I did not see coming.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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